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Creating a Safe Environment for Aging in Place

Health Moment: Aging Can Change Your Outlook

My 80-year-old mother just moved closer to me, so I think about aging a little more nowadays. Although my kids and I are young, I often have to stop and notice that my home has too many stairs for my mother to go up and down throughout the day. As she ages, she tries to only take them once a day. Also, my kitchen cabinets are too high for her to reach comfortably and my bar stools are also too tall for her to sit on with ease. When you have someone you love aging around you. It really changes the way you look at your environment.

The post below has helped me realize what I need to do to make minor changes to help mom become more comfortable living on her own. I’m sure, I’m not the only person learning how to give my mom more autonomy as she ages. Helpfully this post will help you, if it does, please be sure to leave a comment below.

Recent Census Bureau data has indicated that over about the next thirty years the United States will undergo significant demographic changes. The number of people over the age of 65, in 2012, was approximately 43.1 million and by 2050 it is expected to be more than 83 million.

In addition to greater numbers, this group will become a larger percentage of the population. In 2012, less than 15 percent of the total population was over the age of 65 but by 2030 it will be closer to 20 percent. While many of these people will enter retirement communities, there will be a significant portion who decide to age in place.

Aging in place has numerous challenges. Planning a strategy to create a safer home environment and facilitating greater personal independence should begin early to ensure individuals are fully prepared for aging in his or her current space.

As you age, change your home environment

There are numerous home safety issues to consider when planning one’s post-retirement home environment, many of which will be beneficial much earlier. Small home renovations can begin years ahead of time so the cost is spread out and the benefits begin immediately.

Door knobs, cabinet pulls, and plumbing components should all be changed from hard to Easy Grip Knob to easy to pull levers. Flooring should be universally slip=resistant. This may include changing to low-pile carpet or adding nonskid mats under any existing area rugs. Bathrooms typically require the most attention. They can benefit from the addition of handrails in the shower area and near the toilet. However, a walk in shower and taller toilet will be most helpful.

Safety devices should also be installed. A medical alert device for elderly homeowners is often considered an essential piece of technology. However, there are other systems that should also be put into place. Home security systems that are accessible by a mobile device and electronic locks make it easier to check who is at the door and let them in from anywhere in the house. Digital locks also have the benefit of not requiring a key to be inserted as long as it is in close proximity, which will make home entrance easier.

It’s possible to age and be independent too

Personal independence plays a significant role in creating a happy lifestyle. There are several ways to ensure you can remain independent well into retirement. Two of the most important factors will be physical activity and technology.

Creating a Safe Environment for Aging in PlaceGreater physical activity is something that should begin immediately. A physical hobby that will help ensure increased muscle mass and aerobic potential will pay dividends far into the future. Golfing, dancing, bowling, hiking, and martial arts can all be started at any point and are fantastic for increasing physical endurance and provide a social outlet.

Technology continues to improve rapidly and will no doubt evolve substantially over the next thirty years. Some of the latest developments include easy video calls which allow family members from all over the world to stay in touch with one another and will likely be an avenue for medical appointments in the future. Make an effort to stay current on the latest developments so the learning curve is never too steep. This will make it easier to integrate beneficial technological advancements as they are developed.

Many of the people who are reaching retirement age in the next twenty to thirty years have already decided they would prefer to age in place. Their children have been made aware of the preference and the family is preparing. In the absence of a chronic condition such as Alzheimer’s, there is no reason the average person cannot live in their home throughout their retirement journey. 

 

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